Dear NPH Family,There are anniversaries that will be carved into our hearts and souls forever. Today, January 12th, we commemorate the 6th year after the devastating earthquake, with its tremendous destructive force of buildings and infrastructure, but more importantly, hundreds of thousands of lives. We will always remember with heartache our Haitian collaborators and many of their loved ones, who died in this event, and volunteers Molly Hightower and Ryan Kloos, who lost their lives in service to the poor of Haiti.We also remember with awe, the extraordinary response of solidarity, locally through Haitians and worldwide through the international community. (See attached photo). So many helping hands who immediately joined us in our efforts to save lives immediately after the earthquake, and then later on, as the arduous task of rebuilding this already severely impoverished nation began. We continue to be grateful for the trust placed in us by those who supported us most generously through their donations. We are proud to witness all the healing and transformational work that we were able to accomplish through this help.Needless to say, that six years after the horrible earthquake, many more tragedies have occurred throughout the world and the initial outpour of support has waned. Yet, NPH Haiti is a grass roots organization, that above all believes in the human spirit, faith and each person’s potential to become a productive contributor to society. For this reason, we organize our programs around long-term goals of human growth and development, which also require ongoing funding. We are grateful to all of you who continue with your loyal support of our mission.Today, please remember in your prayers the Haitian people, our mission and its collaborators, and especially those who lost their lives, and their loved ones who suffered this irreparable loss. Let’s also look forward with courage and hope that we know in our hearts that life is a beautiful gift from God, in spite of all the tragedies that we witness and suffer.To read more about our programs in Haiti visit: https://www.nph.org/ws/news/index.php?lang=en&haitiReinhart Koehler, Board Chair
This Tuesday, January 12, marks the sixth anniversary of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated the nation of Haiti.
Fr. Rick Frechette, National Director of NPH Haiti, reports that, “even though the country is still bouncing back from the devastation, NPH is tireless in our efforts to help the most vulnerable. We find that because of our successful and unique approach to healthcare and childcare, that we are able to reach the children and families that need us most. Cholera is still present in Haiti after six long years, and our pediatric beds are always full, especially when it rains. Our childcare programs continue to fulfill the mission and vision that Fr. Wasson started in 1987 in Haiti, creating a safe and secure home where kids can be kids. Children who were once on the street or who had to work all day selling goods, or worse, working as domestic slaves, now have the opportunity to study.”
St. Damien Pediatric Hospital has:
• Provided over 13,000 consults.
• Delivered 2,000 babies and provided neonatology care for 480 babies.
• 21 children received life-saving cardiac surgery – a new program at St. Damien this past year.
• Treated over 3,000 children for dehydration with an average of 50 children diagnosed with cholera monthly.
• Provided over 1,700 Tuberculosis consults and treated 267 new cases.
• Over 800 Oncology consults with 54 new children receiving cancer treatment.
• Kay Germaine special needs program provided education, food and therapy to over 300 children and adults who have neurological disabilities.
• Tilapia project has provided 40,000 lbs of fish for our homes and other programs.
• 884 children from low incomes attend the Fr. Wasson’s Angels of Light school, which began as a response to the earthquake.
• Over 400 students are in higher education studying high school, technical or at university level.
We are deeply grateful to everyone who supported us by sponsoring children, making donations, attending and sponsoring events, visiting our homes, volunteering, and giving products and services. With your help we will continue to support thousands of children who need us.
As we celebrate with joy the season of Christmas, and are delighted to be given gifts in beautiful wrappings, in truth the biggest gift we can possibly receive is witnessing how God is working all around us, to make a wrong world right.
The bible speaks of the birth of Christ as the end of the reign of darkness, as a time of mercy and forgiveness, as a time when the lion and the lamb will live together in peace. This new age of blessing will be ushered in by a tiny child.
While working as a doctor last Saturday with Mother Teresa’s Sisters in their clinic, in downtown Port au Prince, as usual I mustered up my strength for the usual array of terrible wounds, advanced illnesses, and harsh sufferings of these very poor people.
Late in the morning, when the last people to be consulted were coming into view, I caught sight of a 5 year old girl who was remarkable for her wide open gaze. From a distance, she made me chuckle, as her expression made her seem so curious and bright. Her name is Ruth.
But when Ruth was finally in front of me, it was a different story. I noticed that her wide opened eyes were fixed on me, but she could only barely see me. Her eyes did not move freely, rather she turned her whole head to try to look at something. I suspected deficiency of vitamin A, which often causes this loss of vision and then total blindness. Looking at her closely, she had signs of other vitamin deficiencies as well. For sure, because of where and how she lives, she was also host to parasites and amoebas that robbed her of nutrition, and that her depressed immune system made it likely she has tuberculosis.
Her illness is of human making. She is sick because of unfairness, because of social and economic unfairness. Poverty is of our making, not of God’s making.
Her uneducated parents cannot find work, and so good food, clean water and seeing a doctor when you are sick are all impossible luxuries. When you live among the poorest of people, in filthy and crowded slums, the door to life closes tight against you, and marks you with the stigma of poverty.
In trying to help Ruth, treating the parasites was the only easy part.
For complex reasons related to her family, Ruth could not be admitted to our St Damien Hospital. Yet she still urgently needs injections of vitamin A, and now this would be an enormous challenge, so would be her treatment of TB.
I slipped into sadness as I considered that even if we are able to give Ruth all the right medicines, we cannot change the economic circumstances of her life, of her poverty, which is finally the cause of her illness.
As I looked for solutions to the deeper layers of Ruth’s problems, I felt like someone trying to untie a massive knot in a string, yet never quite finding the loose end, from which to begin the untying.
Ruth’s life is tragic, and trying to unravel what is wrong reveals even more levels of wrongness.
The Christmas message is just this: it is God himself who chooses to enter into every level of these tragedies, in order to work salvation.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18)
God wants Ruth’s eyes to see.
So do I.
I want those bright eyes to see:
To see me,
To see her mom again.
And I pledge by the holiness of Christmas that we at NPH Haiti will find every way to make this happen. I hope that Ruth will come to the outpatient clinic at our St. Damien Pediatric Hospital for folllow-up for her TB and vitamin A injections, though this depends on her mother.
The very last person to see for the day was Madame Moise. She is, amazingly when you think of the poverty in which she lives, a glowing and gracious woman of 79 years.
I had seen Madame Moise just a few weeks before. She came because she also was nearly blind. A quick flash of my penlight across her eyes showed thick cataracts.
I had sent her to a friend in town, an eye doctor, to have the cataracts removed.
And now, this friendly, pleasant, woman whose life has been as far from easy as any of us could possible imagine, was here to thank me, and to look me directly in the eyes. She studied my eyes, my face, my hands, and she thanked me again, saying “I was blind, and now I can see again, thanks to you.”
It isn’t really thanks to me.
Alright, maybe it is a little bit.
But it is really thanks to God “in whose light we see light itself.” (Psalm 36:9)
This is my Christmas gift to you, introducing you to these two amazing Haitian women. One is very young and the other very old. For both, because of their poverty, their best shot at healthcare was in a crowded clinic, in the market at Croix des Bossales, in Port au Prince. They shine like two diamonds against the dark background of poverty. They have fall into my hands, and by extension, into yours.
Who can miss what is happening here, and how God is working wonders through us?
“We have seen his glory, the glory as of the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. And of his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1, 14)
Thank you for your faithful help to all of us at NPH, in all the countries where we work, for all the children in our homes, and those who come to us for help.
Merry Christmas and God bless you and your families in he new year!
Fr. Rick Frechette
December 1, 2015
Two years ago Obicà supported the Francesca Rava Foundation to start a bakery providing bread, work and professional training to the rural community of St Louis du sud, Les Cayes, Haiti. This year Obicà will fund a new village bakery which will bake 5,000 bread rolls each day, creating jobs and training for the local children and people of Limonade.
If you’d like to support this project, please visit one of the four Obicà restaurants in London
You can contribute by adding a voluntary £1 to your table’s bill at Obicà: South Kensington, Canary Wharf, Charlotte Street or Poland Street.
As Christmas draws near, I am still very troubled by an old pair of black shoes I saw recently on the street.
I know that the lights, music, trees and Christmas Spirit should help me forget them, but I can’t.
It was just within the last week, and not very late at night, when the owner of these black shoes was kidnapped, not a quarter mile from our hospital gate.
All that was left was a battered motorcycle, and the empty shoes, speaking eloquently of the absence of their owner.
The shoes were no longer near the motorcycle. They were carrying feet running from harm. They ran as far as they could before being overtaken, only about 50 feet from the motorcycle, old worn shoes with weathered laces that did not stay in place during the struggle to be free.
I try to imagine the many ways this might have happened, and I try not to imagine the terrible conclusion.
Oddly enough, I tend to scenarios that paint the kidnapped person as an aggressor, for example a thief. I seem to feel calmer if I imagine that somehow he (not she, judging by the shoes) provoked what happened. It is more reassuring to think wickedness is not random.
What is going on in our world? It seems like violence and destructive hatred are universal.
And what is wrong with me, that I feel somehow safer by blaming a kidnapped person for their fate?
At Christmas, it just may be worth thinking about this: what is wrong with the world is my own deep tendency to be wrong. (Yours too, so read on.)
The Bible teaches us that we were kidnapped, taken away from God, by the trickery of the Evil One, and the irresistible pride of Adam and Eve.
Now, like these empty black shoes, only their footprints are what are left of Adam and Eve in the gardens of paradise, like relics that speak of once intimate walks with God.
Ever since, the distance between us and God has become the distance between us and every person, and finally the estrangement from ourselves. We are all strangers outside of paradise.
As strangers, we are stuck with the enduring problems of suspicion, prejudice, exploitation, inequality, un-forgiveness, and war.
We also wind up bearing the enduring burdens of addiction, depression, self-harm, disorientation, and aggression. Many people feel lost, and without value or purpose.
While there is a famous saying that “fools rush in where angels dare to tread,” this doesn’t mean you should not take on the problems of life, but rather it is advice as to how not to do it. Rushing in.
This saying shows us the wisdom of Christmas, shown in the way God came to us, to ransom us from the Evil One (ransom is the very language we use in theology), to redeem us (“redeemer” literally meaning “the one who buys you back”).
Christian tradition teaches that Jesus (whose name means “God saves”) came to us in the dark, and in the middle of no-where. This subtle entrance into our lives was humble, and marked by vulnerability, as shown in the birth in a manger, the slaughter of the innocents, the flight into Egypt.
The tradition teaches that Jesus grew slowly, in wisdom and grace, and that there were many quiet years of maturing, preparation and initiation before he took on the impossible task of buying us back for God.
We call this Incarnation, the taking on of our flesh, the becoming a real part of our blood, our bones, our joys and sorrows, our history and our destiny.
There are those who claim that Christmas is now itself kidnapped, a victim of a cultural war, with increasing disappearance of every public symbol of Christmas.
For all those who look for the meaning of Christmas beyond a Christmas tree on a coffee cup, there is no possible war that could ever win out against the hopeful message of Christmas. And it is a simple message.
God is with us, at every turn of our life, in every joy and sorrow, in every battle between good and evil. And because he is with us, the final victory is guaranteed.
By living as He lived, and imitating His goodness, by joining Him in paying the price required to save those “in darkness and the shadow of death”, we join his movement for salvation.
We must resist everything that is wrong within us and wrong around us, replacing our addictions with freedom, our depressions with longing for truth and justice, our harmful tendencies with life-giving acts. We must narrow the distances between us by building bridges instead of walls, replacing prejudice with respect, and war with peace.
With “God with us”, in our blood and in our covenants, we can topple mountains of pride, fill in valleys of emptiness, and fill all empty shoes with the feet of their captive owners. It is a daunting, but not impossible, task.
We carry it out slowly and steadily, with every growing wisdom and grace, at midnight and in unknown places. We care for the weakest, strengthen the sick, share food with the hungry. We bind the wounds of the injured and battle-worn, clothe the naked, guide children out of ignorance with the light of learning. We bring hope to the forlorn, and bury the dead with respect and in the hope of eternity.
And best of all, we get to do it with good people like you.
Thanks for your ongoing support to our work in Haiti, entrusted to St Luke, physician and evangelist, teacher and friend of God. Let’s continue to work to eliminate distance, and strengthen the ties that bind, and to do so with the joy and hope of Christmas.
And of course, loudly and publically,
Merry Christmas to you and your families!
Fr Rick Frechette CP, Port au Prince, Haiti
First Sunday of Advent, 2015
Since 2013, Fondazione Francesca Rava NPH Italia’s medical teams have worked on board of the Italian Navy’s ships to save and rescue migrants adrift in the Sicily Channel, providing first aid to 90,000 people and focusing on mother and child emergency healthcare: to date the Foundation’s pediatricians, gynecologists and midwives assisted 10,000 women, 9,000 children, 500 pregnant women, several of them during labor and delivery. An estimated 2,000 women and 1,500 children will need help in the next months.
Women and children embarking on treacherous journeys to escape hunger and wars are found at sea in a desperate life threatening condition, due not only to dehydration, hydrocarbons and sun induced burns, crash syndrome, but also suffering from the consequences of violence and sexual abuse. Pregnant women and babies are especially at risk. To assist them with specialized first aid as soon as they are brought on board of the Navy ships, is of paramount importance.
We select and coordinate teams of experienced doctors, nurses, midwives. We equip them with sonographs, emergency medicines and delivery kits. On board of the ships patrolling the Mediterreanean, our medical volunteers take part in the search and rescue operations and triage of the migrants. The growing emergency in the Mediterranean, with a two digit increase of refugees departing from Lybia as compared to last year, requires additional human resources in the front line.
The main impact of this project is immediate because it ‘s an emergency program. However, a prompt assistance and monitoring of a pregnant woman and a safe childbirth lowers the risk of maternal death and prevents long term neurological and physical damages to newborns.
We need your help! If you want to donate, visit our website www.nph-italia.org